The sad thing about living a chaotic, drug-fueled anti-social life-style is that you will never have a fullfilled, mature, settled, loving relationship. Once again I was released from prison and I went to the only place I knew… Back to the streets and chaos that I knew… I was 48 years old and all the short periods that I was out of insttutions, I would find myself with another working girl. A lady of the night. Sadly, a prostitute that was no-doubt emotionally damaged as much as I was. Except this one gave me support and encouragement to not go stealing for her…She treated me with a respect that I had not experienced before. We both got free from from addiction and I was just living a life the way she taught me. I really believed her, as she had two grown up children therefore, she must know more about life than me. Sadly she did, only, it was not for the good of me. She took advantage of my lack of emotional intelligence and abused that very sadistically for over a year. Sadly, I didn’t know any different and socially/emotionally I was always on the back foot.
Being released from my 12 year sentence was a real struggle for me. This time, I had done over a decade in one sentence. Infact, because I was unruly, I served 10 years & 4 months out of the 12 years sentence. I really was in an alien environment. I was a big grown man who had survived some the countries most violent prisons yet, on release I was emotionally stumped.
I had been in institutions since I was a small boy. Therefore, I never had any emotional relationships to grow, interact and/or mature with. A person grows emotionally within every interaction and experience. Moreover, life helps you grow with your current age. However, as I was never involved with anyone emotionally, I never had any experiences, interactions or coping mechanisms to deal with my emotions. Therefore, my emotional side of me, as a person, sadly failed to grow.
I re-entered the world, then, in a condition of hope but pretty complete uncertainty. I had no idea how I would deal with actually living with someone else, sharing a home, a sofa…a life. I left a path of confidence and certainty and jumped blindly over a cliff.
I sit amongst the wreckage of my relationship. And have no doubt, this has been the result of my in abilities, my selfishness, my flaws. The relationship was the ship in which I was exploring life, the vessel that would carry me forward.
Having pressed the self-destruct button, I swam to the nearest rock and there I sit. This was not the plan. This is not where life should find me. I walked away from a constructive path and now find myself with nothing.
Such, I gather, is life. The emotional pillar at the centre of my being has crumbled. I find this harder to deal with because, I realise that my relationship was more important than anything else and so as I failed to build a good relationship the effort I was making diverted my attention from the rest of life.
Prison can be monastic. It flows at its own rhythm. It is a limited existence, sometimes a meagre one. In that strange environment I could vanish into Solitary and take the time out to muse on my situation and its potential. It was in that environment that I took a lengthy moral and intellectual tour in order to distil my “operating principles” of “doing the right thing” and “resist abuses of power”. And these principles gave me a certainty and solidity in the face of an otherwise overwhelmingly oppressive institution. Yet I knew how to take charge of any situation within these walls.
These parameters made sense in prison. I had nearly killed someone; Sadly left the man paralysed from the waist down in a knife-fight. trying to do “the right thing” seems a bit of a moral imperative, the least I could do. And in an institution built on violence, “resisting abuses of power” was an imperative. These things made sense…in prison.
On release, I was too busy to reflect. Five years on and I still haven’t unpacked my prison paperwork. Only now, as rubble from my exploded relationship rains down, have I been compelled to reflect. And realise I am bereft on every level. I have been exploring this world of freedom without the compass, the values, that guided my prison life.
I don’t know where I am going. Or why. And unlike in prison, Life out here doesn’t pause to allow me time to muse. I am told that this is all quite normal, the human condition. Perhaps I was very fortunate to have an idea of what the hell I was doing in life for so long. That doesn’t help me in this moment. I literally don’t know what I am doing here in freedom, what I should do, what I can do, and most importantly for me – why and to what end.
All I can do is continue doing what I have done today. My uncertainty and guess-work at life is getting me through each day. I start every morning with the first sentence embedded within my mind. ”Look after today…..Do everything right today….and tomoorrow, You can do it all over again…
I live in a remarkable environment, a million miles away from the dark days of prisons and institutions and I feel like there is a reason why I am here. I don;t know what that reason is yet…BUT, if I do everything right today…